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The Dos And Don’ts Of Restoring A Motorcycle

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Fun Rover

January 27, 2022


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A vehicle that has seen better days often ends up being destined for the scrapyard, which is an unfortunate fact considering the charm and dedicated engineering work that they often embody. While this statement is particularly commonly made with reference to four-wheeled modes of transport, it’s every bit as true when it comes to motorcycles. With so many design classics having grabbed the attention across several decades, it’s always a shame when a classic motorbike revs its last.

It’s a nice idea, then, to save such vehicles from the scrapheap by restoring them - if not to their full former glory, then at least to working order and a new lease of life. This isn’t an easy process, but is certainly worthwhile, and if you follow the list of dos and don’t below, you can find some real joy in bringing a motorcycle back from the brink.

Make sure you have the wherewithal to work on it

There is little point to even beginning a restoration job if you’re going to be restricted in what you can do with the motorcycle. This means you need space and the correct equipment - which is likely to include a hoist that will allow you to get the motorcycle up to a level where you can work on it without bending yourself to the shape of a pretzel. Equally, you need lateral space around you where you can lay out tools and motorcycle parts without restricting your ability to move around.

Don’t restore a rare motorcycle - at least, not first time out

Italian motorcycle manufacturing has given us some of the most beautiful machines, with some of the most artistic lines and almost musical sounds. It’s also given us some of the most idiosyncratic decisions when it comes to selecting parts and chassis design, and for a first-time restorer that represents un vero mal di testa (a real headache). Experienced restorers recommend that you start with a Japanese model such as a Yamaha, which feature more basic design and parts but, when renovated, still give superb performance.

Reach out to others

If you’ve never restored a motorcycle before, you’re in for a steep learning curve. While totally worthwhile, it’s still going to test your capabilities and probably your patience. It’s useful to have people you can reach out to, who have done what you are about to do, so joining online forums, communities on social media, and any other groups that you feel can help, is a great step before you throw yourself into the hard work. They’ll have invaluable tips for a first-timer.

Don’t work without a manual

Depending on the age of the bike, it may be hard to find an original manual that will help you restore the bike to its best shape. However, publishers such as Haynes have published exhaustive maintenance manuals for cars and bikes across a period of decades, which are excellent companions for a rookie restorer. Invest in one of these before you begin your efforts, and you’ll benefit from invaluable advice.

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